April 4, 2024

IRCF Awards ORCA $25,000

Recently, Indian River Community Foundation awarded Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) a discretionary grant of $25,000 for their Citizen Science Program. ORCA’s mission is to protect and restore aquatic ecosystems and the life that they sustain through innovative technologies, applied research science, education, and citizen science with particular emphasis on the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). This 156-mile long estuary was deemed the most biologically diverse estuary in the nation, but with increased frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms, continued seagrass decline, biodiversity loss, and an influx of anthropogenic pollutants from the watershed, this economically and ecologically valuable waterway may be at a tipping point.

Missy Weiss, Toni Hamner, Dr. Edie Widder, & Brooke Sauserman

In response to these devastating environmental impacts, ORCA’s Citizen Science Program aims to both educate and engage all members of the community- regardless of age, gender, education, race, or religion- in solving the problems that are leading to the degradation of the IRL and connecting waterways. Through a series of workshops and trainings, staff rigorously prepares community volunteers to participate in one of four citizen science projects: Pollution Mapping, One Health Fish Monitoring, Land to Sea Monitoring, and A Day in the Life. Citizen scientists measure and monitor local environmental conditions and help identify sources of pollution entering the lagoon by conducting field sampling and laboratory analyses. Together, we can acquire the data required to drive change and solve these complex problems.

Through the power of citizen science, ORCA is able to:
•Build relationships with volunteers, community organizations, and local businesses to develop a conservation-focused community based on the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
•Cultivate an ethic of care, concern and stewardship for the IRL and its watershed
•Offer meaningful participation in real-world scientific research and environmental problem solving
•Open pathways to science and scientific literacy

The Citizen Science Program allows ORCA to build on their previous accomplishments and continue to develop, coordinate, expand, refine, and execute high-quality citizen science projects for community members, while adding scientific depth to our current research projects. Continued program support will allow them to produce comprehensive and novel datasets that make advancements on their understanding of the specific sources of pollution impacting the health of our waterways and initiate conservation action in our community.

Indian River Community Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking is aligned with a vision of a more healthy, prosperous, and generous Indian River County community. Grantmaking priorities are informed by the findings of the most recent community needs assessment and the most current data and information collected on Indian River Indicators. Grants from the Community Enrichment Fund are reviewed by a Grants Committee comprised of volunteers Suzanne Bertman, Pat Brier, Toni Hamner, Dale Jacobs, Wanda Lincoln, Dawn Michael, and Angelia Perry.

IRCF is holding informational sessions for nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations serving Indian River County who are interested in applying for a competitive grant. If interested, please call 772.492.1407 or email Brooke Sauserman to reserve your spot. Please read our Guidelines before registering.

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